‘The element of renunciation, of mortification and self-denial, an inescapable element in the Christian life, must always be seen in the context of the baptismal covenant and of the Paschal mystery... No form of self-denial is of any value whatever - it can often be the reverse - if it is not directed to the love and service of God and our neighbour. Our model here must be Christ the Servant, laying aside his garments to wash the feet of his disciples. In our Lenten discipline we strip off our garments, not because there is anything wrong or sinful about them, but because we do not want anything to hinder or limit our service. It is a true instinct which has led to the recovery in our own days of the ancient link between fasting and sharing one's food with the hungry... We say no to self only in order to be able to say yes to God and to our neighbour; to say yes more meaningfully and more authentically by attacking at the roots all the obstacles to self-surrender. So in baptism we are called upon to say no to the Devil so that we may say yes to God; we are made to die with Christ to the old Adam so that we may rise with him to the glory of the new humanity. Our whole observance of Lent must help us to be conformed more closely to the death and resurrection of Christ in the Easter mystery. Right at the beginning of Lent we need to have set before us the truth expressed so clearly by Père Louis Bouyer:
“The Pasch is not a mere commemoration: it is the cross and the empty tomb rendered actual. But it is no longer the Head who must stretch himself upon the cross in order to rise from the tomb: it is his Body the Church, and of this Body we are members”’.
from The Sacrament of Easter: An Introduction to the Liturgy of Holy Week, 1965
by Roger Greenacre, 1930-2011
Fr Lee Kenyon